Sustainable agriculture involves and requires spatial and temporal dimensions, but the spatial dimension tends to dominate consideration of landscape patterns. Food supply chain sustainability initiatives aim to avoid conversion of land covers that offer ecological services. A food supply chain traceability method – the Potato Sustainability Initiative (PSI) used in the USA and Canada – uses both spatial and temporal attributes as part of landscape assessments required for certification. The PSI uses a producer-completed questionnaire that has a substantial landscape ecology component to assess structure, function, and change. Of these, though, change in landscape pattern is the one least deeply considered and the temporal scale of change is brief. The result is an initiative that, assessed at an opportune moment, can overlook significant landscape changes that compromise sustainability.
This paper examines and describes the temporality of landscape patterns in the North American Potato Sustainability Initiative in order to identify ways to better achieve green infrastructure objectives. Green infrastructure is considered inclusively as part of the composition and configuration of production agriculture in both space and time, along with parts of the landscape that primarily provide ecosystem services. The paper proposes a temporal assessment of landscape pattern change to show how the PSI could more-fully consider land cover conversion in different production landscapes to better inform sustainability assessments. It concludes by considering the value of longer-term dimensions of landscape pattern trajectories that are better integrated within food supply chain sustainability initiatives.